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A trio of lamb chops on a plate with sides.
Kitchen + Kocktails has debuted in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Hottest New Restaurants in Chicago, October 2021

A sceney River North restaurant, a deluxe Loop food hall, and a South Side Mexican restaurant make a fall entrance

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Kitchen + Kocktails has debuted in River North.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

2021’s restaurant openings continue even during a period of uncertainty. As October puts some separation between the busy summer, when cooped-up Chicagoans fled their homes at rapid rates in search of an escape, the city is at a crossroads. Sweater weather is routinely slower than the summer in Chicago, but there are plenty of planned restaurants that were delayed during the pandemic. Some projects can no longer wait any longer. Given that landscape, this month brings several interesting openings to the city.

For the October update, Eater Chicago adds five new restaurants: A Loop food hall, a South Side Mexican restaurant, an all-day Spanish cafe in Lincoln Park, a sceney River North restaurant, and a major restaurant group’s latest in West Loop. Put down the pumpkin spice and enjoy October. Happy dining.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. George's Deep Dish

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6221 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 801-1551
Visit Website

Edgewater is the home for a new spin on Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. George Bumbaris is a former coder who opened a pizzeria in the spring. He uses longer fermentation and lower oven temperatures to give the neighborhood high-quality pies that tourists would loves if they’d be willing to depart downtown for the Far North Side. The pies feature a sourdough focaccia-style crust with a caramelized cheese edge. Bumbaris told Steve Dolinsky his inspiration is a Greek bread recipe. Takeout and delivery only.

2. Andros Taverna

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2542 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 365-1900
Visit Website

Andros Taverna is the answer for customers who wonder, “What if Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises opened another Greek restaurant?” Co-owner Doug Psaltis, a veteran chef who abruptly left LEYE, was the mastermind behind the group’s RPM series of restaurants, and has teamed up with the owners of popular Lincoln Park haunt Gemini. The dining room and bar are lively, and there’s a $22 plate of gyros for those who want to get decadent. What differentiates Andros is the pastry program from co-owner Hsing Chen, a decorated pastry chef who has been selling dessert boxes over the weekend. 

A large, airy restaurant dining room. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

3. Fancy Plants Kitchen

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1443 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Kevin Schuder has yearned for a larger dance floor since he opened his Lakeview cafe in 2019. He finally found a Lincoln Park space with a full bar so he can serve all-day breakfast, creative pastries, and even a special vegan tasting menu. This opening is big news in the vegan community and gives Chicago a quality venue for elevated vegan cuisine.

Kevin Schuder outside the patio at Fancy Plants Kitchen Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

4. Esmé

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2200 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

Esmé is a welcome addition to Lincoln Park, where chef Jenner Tomaska and wife Katrina Bravo give fine dining a sorely needed overhaul. Tomaska, who worked for Next, Alinea Group’s rotating restaurant, is artfully churning out dishes like salt baked sable, salmon with spring pears in “ranch whey,” and carrot dauphine are part of the $185 coursed-out meal. Reservations are mandatory.

Lips- Wagyu éclair, salted strawberries, pine, parsnip Esmé/Sandy Noto

5. Lardon

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2200 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 697-4444
Visit Website

This long awaited Logan Square cafe focuses on charcuterie and sandwiches. It’s been a smash hit since opening, drawing crowds morning, afternoon, and evening. The restaurant, the first joint effort from chef Christopher Thompson (Coda di Volpe) and Steve Lewis (Centennial Crafted Brewing), is a casual affair with a rustic European Old World feel. There’s a deep wine list and the cheese boards will keep guests coming back for more.

A hand holding thin-cut meat that came out of a red deli slicer.
Lardon has the meats.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

6. Bloom Plant Based Kitchen

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1559 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 363-3110
Visit Website

Former Carnivale chef Rodolfo Cuadros has seen his cooking evolve. His successful Bucktown restaurant, Amaru, continues to delight, but during the pandemic he needed new ways to make money to help his business survive. He and his family had already drastically cut their meat intake at home, and so Cuadros turned to a virtual vegan restaurant for salvation. He’s now expanded that concept into a standalone restaurant in Wicker Park with a full bar and a vegan cheese plate that’s become a crowd pleaser.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

7. Wazwan Pop-Up

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1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 697-8794
Visit Website

Zubair Mohajir and his crew have been hustling for years with a food hall stall, pop-ups, and a virtual restaurant. Mohajir has worked at fine dining restaurants (like the world-famous Gaggan in Bangkok), and his applied a refined touch to South Asian street food. Find momos, burgers, fried chicken, biryani, and more at Wazwan’s latest incarnation. This is an appetizer for a more formal experience when Mohajir’s West Town restaurant, Aman, opens later this year. 

8. Adalina

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912 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 820-9000
Visit Website

This ritzy Gold Coast Italian restaurant has brought back some sorely needed energy to downtown. Chef Soo Ahn (Band of Bohemia) has created a balanced menu where there’s plenty to feast on for vegetarians and omnivores. Find handmade pastas, decadent steaks befitting a Chicago chop house, and more.

9. Jaleo

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500 N Clark St #465
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 820-7771
Visit Website

José Andrés’ hotly anticipated Chicago restaurant is heating up River North with the celebrity chef’s successful formula he debuted at the first Jaleo in D.C: traditional tapas in a casual setting. A basement bar should debut later this year.

Jaleo is open in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

10. Rose Mary

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932 W Fulton St
Chicago, IL 60607
(872) 260-3921
Visit Website

Joe Flamm’s dream is finally here, as the the former Spiaggia chef and Top Chef winner opened his first restaurant alongside the owners of flashy West Loop steakhouse BLVD. Flamm merges his prowess with handmade Italian pastas and Croatian techniques blending Old and New Worlds to create something unique. Reservations are recommended, because this might the most difficult table in town.

Rose Mary’s lamb shoulder.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

11. Oriole

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661 W Walnut St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 877-5339
Visit Website

One of the country’s best fine dining restaurants, Oriole reopened in July and was quickly booked for the coming months. During the pandemic, Noah and Cara Sandoval, the chef and co-owner, transformed their two-Michelin-starred restaurant, revamping and modernizing the interiors. But the tasting menu format remains. Expect impeccable service and a come-as-you-are environment that allows diners of all backgrounds to enjoy the experience. Reservations are scarce.

An open kitchen inside a restaurant. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

12. The Exchange

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224 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 265-0591
Visit Website

This has been one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Chicago since pre-pandemic times. With The Exchange, DMK Restaurants aims to give Chicago something different: a Japanese-style listening bar with a state-of-the-art sound system for vinyl obsessives and a rotating menu of New American classics from Beard-nominated chef Brian Huston. In late September, the Exchange’s bar, Theo’s debuted. Look for classic cocktails and a bar menu that features Chicago-style tavern pizza.

A round pepperoni pizza flanked by two glasses of wine.
Theo’s features tavern-style pizzas.
DMK Restaurants

13. BRUNCH N BURGERS CHICAGO

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2255 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 285-2965
Visit Website

As the Trib reports, Erica McGhee is known as the Burger Queen as she shows no fear in stacking smashed beef patties with decadent toppings. Beyond burgers, customers can find stellar mac and cheese, a sloppy joe, and chilaquiles. McGhee is looking to expand her menu soon, so it will be cool to see how this all-day brunch spot grows.

14. Kitchen + Kocktails Chicago

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444 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 659-1951
Visit Website

This is the second location of a Dallas restaurant that combines a trendy dining room with spaces that beg customers to make Instagram posts and upscale comfort food. It’s a genre that modernizes Southern cuisine popularized by Black America. Owner Kevin Kelley wants his new restaurant to complement Chicago’s dining scene, to be a celebratory place where diners nosh on huge chops drizzled with Asian Hennessy glaze and a cornucopia of chicken and waffle options. There’s also creative cocktails and a lounge. Reservations are recommended.

A wide open dining room with wooden floors, a bright mural and a chandelier. Photo was taken at night.
The former Benny’s Chop House is reborn in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

15. Urbanspace

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15 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

Food halls aren’t a passing fad, even during a pandemic. Urbanspace is a collection of 12 stalls and a bar (there’s room for 20 restaurants) with a mix of local favorites (Happy Lobster, Edzo’s Burger Shop, Budlong, Isla Pilipina) and imports (Roberta’s Pizza, Plant Junkie, Pita Yeero). Toss in some new concepts (Bianca’s BBQ, Bhoomi) and this is a formidable spot for Loop dining.

A round, thin crust pizza cheese and pepperoni.
Roberta’s Pizza is finally here in Chicago.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

16. Solazo

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5600 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60629
(773) 627-5047
Visit Website

This is the rebirth of a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Archer Heights, near Midway International Airport. Solazo’s ownership learned a few lessons when it opened La Josie along Randolph Restaurant Row in West Loop. They’ve applied those lessons at their original restaurant without sacrificing the neighborhood feel. The tacos, queso, and other items have never tasted better, but now customers can enjoy amped up cocktails.

Two meat tacos on a plate
Solazo’s tacos are back.
Solazo

17. Alla Vita

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564 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 667-0104
Visit Website

Boka Restaurant Group strikes again the West Loop with Alla Vita, its jack of all trades Italian restaurant with pastas and pizzas aimed to please a diverse audience of families, couples, and tourists along Randolph Street. The former Bellemore gets a facelift with plants, a wine installation, and a sleeker design. Reservations are recommended.

A large wooden table laid with lots of Italian dishes
Alla Vita is the latest Boka hit.
Alla Vita/Galdones Photography

18. Bocadillo Market

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2342 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 857-0331
Visit Website

This Spanish all-day restaurant from D.C. native James Martin is a sleeper hit in Lincoln Park. The former A10 chef features a morning menu with coffee and pastries. The all-day menu, ideal for lunch, focuses on bocadillos, the elusive Spanish small sandwiches that haven’t quite caught on in Chicago. Find smoked lamb, fried calamari, and jamon Serrano options. The dinner menu includes heavy hitters like paella and tapas favorites like patatas bravas, and non-traditional items like foie gras with berry and beet jam.

1. George's Deep Dish

6221 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660

Edgewater is the home for a new spin on Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. George Bumbaris is a former coder who opened a pizzeria in the spring. He uses longer fermentation and lower oven temperatures to give the neighborhood high-quality pies that tourists would loves if they’d be willing to depart downtown for the Far North Side. The pies feature a sourdough focaccia-style crust with a caramelized cheese edge. Bumbaris told Steve Dolinsky his inspiration is a Greek bread recipe. Takeout and delivery only.

6221 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60660

2. Andros Taverna

2542 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
A large, airy restaurant dining room. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Andros Taverna is the answer for customers who wonder, “What if Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises opened another Greek restaurant?” Co-owner Doug Psaltis, a veteran chef who abruptly left LEYE, was the mastermind behind the group’s RPM series of restaurants, and has teamed up with the owners of popular Lincoln Park haunt Gemini. The dining room and bar are lively, and there’s a $22 plate of gyros for those who want to get decadent. What differentiates Andros is the pastry program from co-owner Hsing Chen, a decorated pastry chef who has been selling dessert boxes over the weekend. 

2542 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

3. Fancy Plants Kitchen

1443 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Kevin Schuder outside the patio at Fancy Plants Kitchen Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Kevin Schuder has yearned for a larger dance floor since he opened his Lakeview cafe in 2019. He finally found a Lincoln Park space with a full bar so he can serve all-day breakfast, creative pastries, and even a special vegan tasting menu. This opening is big news in the vegan community and gives Chicago a quality venue for elevated vegan cuisine.

1443 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

4. Esmé

2200 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Lips- Wagyu éclair, salted strawberries, pine, parsnip Esmé/Sandy Noto

Esmé is a welcome addition to Lincoln Park, where chef Jenner Tomaska and wife Katrina Bravo give fine dining a sorely needed overhaul. Tomaska, who worked for Next, Alinea Group’s rotating restaurant, is artfully churning out dishes like salt baked sable, salmon with spring pears in “ranch whey,” and carrot dauphine are part of the $185 coursed-out meal. Reservations are mandatory.

2200 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

5. Lardon

2200 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
A hand holding thin-cut meat that came out of a red deli slicer.
Lardon has the meats.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This long awaited Logan Square cafe focuses on charcuterie and sandwiches. It’s been a smash hit since opening, drawing crowds morning, afternoon, and evening. The restaurant, the first joint effort from chef Christopher Thompson (Coda di Volpe) and Steve Lewis (Centennial Crafted Brewing), is a casual affair with a rustic European Old World feel. There’s a deep wine list and the cheese boards will keep guests coming back for more.

2200 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

6. Bloom Plant Based Kitchen

1559 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Former Carnivale chef Rodolfo Cuadros has seen his cooking evolve. His successful Bucktown restaurant, Amaru, continues to delight, but during the pandemic he needed new ways to make money to help his business survive. He and his family had already drastically cut their meat intake at home, and so Cuadros turned to a virtual vegan restaurant for salvation. He’s now expanded that concept into a standalone restaurant in Wicker Park with a full bar and a vegan cheese plate that’s become a crowd pleaser.

1559 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

7. Wazwan Pop-Up

1742 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

Zubair Mohajir and his crew have been hustling for years with a food hall stall, pop-ups, and a virtual restaurant. Mohajir has worked at fine dining restaurants (like the world-famous Gaggan in Bangkok), and his applied a refined touch to South Asian street food. Find momos, burgers, fried chicken, biryani, and more at Wazwan’s latest incarnation. This is an appetizer for a more formal experience when Mohajir’s West Town restaurant, Aman, opens later this year. 

1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

8. Adalina

912 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

This ritzy Gold Coast Italian restaurant has brought back some sorely needed energy to downtown. Chef Soo Ahn (Band of Bohemia) has created a balanced menu where there’s plenty to feast on for vegetarians and omnivores. Find handmade pastas, decadent steaks befitting a Chicago chop house, and more.

912 N State St
Chicago, IL 60610

9. Jaleo

500 N Clark St #465, Chicago, IL 60654
Jaleo is open in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

José Andrés’ hotly anticipated Chicago restaurant is heating up River North with the celebrity chef’s successful formula he debuted at the first Jaleo in D.C: traditional tapas in a casual setting. A basement bar should debut later this year.

500 N Clark St #465
Chicago, IL 60654

10. Rose Mary

932 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60607
Rose Mary’s lamb shoulder.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Joe Flamm’s dream is finally here, as the the former Spiaggia chef and Top Chef winner opened his first restaurant alongside the owners of flashy West Loop steakhouse BLVD. Flamm merges his prowess with handmade Italian pastas and Croatian techniques blending Old and New Worlds to create something unique. Reservations are recommended, because this might the most difficult table in town.

932 W Fulton St
Chicago, IL 60607

11. Oriole

661 W Walnut St, Chicago, IL 60661
An open kitchen inside a restaurant. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

One of the country’s best fine dining restaurants, Oriole reopened in July and was quickly booked for the coming months. During the pandemic, Noah and Cara Sandoval, the chef and co-owner, transformed their two-Michelin-starred restaurant, revamping and modernizing the interiors. But the tasting menu format remains. Expect impeccable service and a come-as-you-are environment that allows diners of all backgrounds to enjoy the experience. Reservations are scarce.

661 W Walnut St
Chicago, IL 60661

12. The Exchange

224 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604
A round pepperoni pizza flanked by two glasses of wine.
Theo’s features tavern-style pizzas.
DMK Restaurants

This has been one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Chicago since pre-pandemic times. With The Exchange, DMK Restaurants aims to give Chicago something different: a Japanese-style listening bar with a state-of-the-art sound system for vinyl obsessives and a rotating menu of New American classics from Beard-nominated chef Brian Huston. In late September, the Exchange’s bar, Theo’s debuted. Look for classic cocktails and a bar menu that features Chicago-style tavern pizza.

224 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60604

13. BRUNCH N BURGERS CHICAGO

2255 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60612

As the Trib reports, Erica McGhee is known as the Burger Queen as she shows no fear in stacking smashed beef patties with decadent toppings. Beyond burgers, customers can find stellar mac and cheese, a sloppy joe, and chilaquiles. McGhee is looking to expand her menu soon, so it will be cool to see how this all-day brunch spot grows.

2255 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60612

14. Kitchen + Kocktails Chicago

444 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
A wide open dining room with wooden floors, a bright mural and a chandelier. Photo was taken at night.
The former Benny’s Chop House is reborn in River North.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This is the second location of a Dallas restaurant that combines a trendy dining room with spaces that beg customers to make Instagram posts and upscale comfort food. It’s a genre that modernizes Southern cuisine popularized by Black America. Owner Kevin Kelley wants his new restaurant to complement Chicago’s dining scene, to be a celebratory place where diners nosh on huge chops drizzled with Asian Hennessy glaze and a cornucopia of chicken and waffle options. There’s also creative cocktails and a lounge. Reservations are recommended.

444 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

15. Urbanspace

15 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
A round, thin crust pizza cheese and pepperoni.
Roberta’s Pizza is finally here in Chicago.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Food halls aren’t a passing fad, even during a pandemic. Urbanspace is a collection of 12 stalls and a bar (there’s room for 20 restaurants) with a mix of local favorites (Happy Lobster, Edzo’s Burger Shop, Budlong, Isla Pilipina) and imports (Roberta’s Pizza, Plant Junkie, Pita Yeero). Toss in some new concepts (Bianca’s BBQ, Bhoomi) and this is a formidable spot for Loop dining.

15 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

Related Maps

16. Solazo

5600 S Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60629
Two meat tacos on a plate
Solazo’s tacos are back.
Solazo

This is the rebirth of a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Archer Heights, near Midway International Airport. Solazo’s ownership learned a few lessons when it opened La Josie along Randolph Restaurant Row in West Loop. They’ve applied those lessons at their original restaurant without sacrificing the neighborhood feel. The tacos, queso, and other items have never tasted better, but now customers can enjoy amped up cocktails.

5600 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60629

17. Alla Vita

564 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661
A large wooden table laid with lots of Italian dishes
Alla Vita is the latest Boka hit.
Alla Vita/Galdones Photography

Boka Restaurant Group strikes again the West Loop with Alla Vita, its jack of all trades Italian restaurant with pastas and pizzas aimed to please a diverse audience of families, couples, and tourists along Randolph Street. The former Bellemore gets a facelift with plants, a wine installation, and a sleeker design. Reservations are recommended.

564 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661

18. Bocadillo Market

2342 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

This Spanish all-day restaurant from D.C. native James Martin is a sleeper hit in Lincoln Park. The former A10 chef features a morning menu with coffee and pastries. The all-day menu, ideal for lunch, focuses on bocadillos, the elusive Spanish small sandwiches that haven’t quite caught on in Chicago. Find smoked lamb, fried calamari, and jamon Serrano options. The dinner menu includes heavy hitters like paella and tapas favorites like patatas bravas, and non-traditional items like foie gras with berry and beet jam.

2342 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

Related Maps